Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. The tradeoff between assured, limited coverage and lack of recourse outside the worker compensation system is known as “the compensation bargain.”

While plans differ between jurisdictions, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment (functioning in this case as a form of life insurance).

General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in workers’ compensation plans, and negligence is generally not an issue in the case.

Workers’ compensation: an overview

Workers’ compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards, eliminating the need for litigation. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses. Some laws also protect employers and fellow workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer and by eliminating the liability of co-workers in most accidents. State statutes establish this framework for most employment. Federal statutes are limited to federal employees or those workers employed in some significant aspect of interstate commerce.

The Federal Employment Compensation Act provides workers’ compensation for non-military, federal employees. Many of its provisions are typical of most workers’ compensation laws. Awards are limited to “disability or death” sustained while in the performance of the employee’s duties but not caused willfully by the employee or by intoxication. The act covers medical expenses due to the disability and may require the employee to undergo job retraining. A disabled employee receives two-thirds of his or her normal monthly salary during the disability and may receive more for permanent physical injuries or if he or she has dependents. The act provides compensation for survivors of employees who are killed. The act is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.

The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA), while not a workers’ compensation statute, provides that railroads engaged in interstate commerce are liable for injuries to their employees if they have been negligent.

The Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act) provides seamen with the same protection from employer negligence as FELA provides railroad workers.

Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) to provide workers’ compensation to specified employees of private maritime employers. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs administers the act.

The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation for miners suffering from “black lung” (pneumoconiosis). The Act requires liable mine operators to pay disability payments and establishes a fund administered by the Secretary of Labor providing disability payments to miners where the mine operator is unknown or unable to pay. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs regulates the administration of the act.

If you need a qualified New Jersey Workmans Compensation attorney please contact our office today to arrainge a free consultation. (732) 431- 2224. An interpreter is on staff to assist clients who speak Spanish. Please telephone (732) 687-6155 to speak to our Spanish staff member. Se habla espanol, porfavor llame al (732) 687-6155.

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